Junot Diaz

  • Aired:  03/25/13
  •  | Views: 55,115

The MacArthur Fellow discusses path to citizenship, education for undocumented immigrants and the "Superman Question." (6:28)

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK, EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT WON A NOBEL PRIZE AND MACARTHUR GRANT.

BIG DEAL.

I WAS ONLY FOUR NUMBERS AWAY FROM HITTING THE POWERBALL.

PLEASE WELCOME JUNOT DIAZ.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

>> GREAT TO SEE YOU.

>> Stephen: SIT DOWN, MY FRIEND.

MAY I CALL YOU MY FRIEND.

MI AMIGO?

>> EITHER ONE.

>> Stephen: FOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW WHAT AN IMPRESSIVE FIGURE YOU ARE YOU ARE A

MACARTHUR GENIUSES, A NOBEL PRIZE WINNER AND AUTHOR.

CURRENTLY YOU ARE ON THE BOARD OF ADVISORS AT SOMETHING CALLED FREEDOM UNIVERSITY AND TEACH

WRITING AT MIT?

>> YES.

>> Stephen: WRITING AT IMT --

>> I KNOW.

>> Stephen: ISN'T THAT LIKE TEACHING ENGINEERING AT JULIARD.

WHY?

>> I KNOW.

EVERYBODY NEEDS TO LEARN WRITING EVEN MIT.

>> Stephen: WHY.

YOU HAVE SIRI NOW.

YOU CAN DICTATE IT TO YOUR IPHONE.

>> HAVE YOU TRIED IT.

IT NEVER WORKS.

>> Stephen: I NEVER READ IT BACK.

>> WRITING IS SO USEFUL.

>> Stephen: FREEDOM UNIVERSITY IS A GEORGIA COLLEGE DEDICATED TO EDUCATING UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS.

>> YEAH, YEAH.

>> Stephen: WHY?

>> IT'S ONE OF THESE SITUATIONS WHERE WE HAD THE GEORGIA LEGISLATURE DECIDED TO BAN FROM

THE TOP FIVE SCHOOLS IN GEORGIA STUDENTS FROM STUDYING THERE.

IF UNDOCUMENTED YOUTH OR STUDENTS WERE THERE, THEY ARE NOT PERMITTED TO STUDY THEY WERE CUT.

EVEN PEOPLE WHO WERE ACCEPTED.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED WAS A BUDGE THE OF PROFESSOR AND YOUNG PEOPLE GOT TOGETHER SAID

WHILE WE'RE WAITING FOR THIS LAW TO CHANGE WE'RE GOING TO CREATE THIS UNIVERSITY TO KEEP THE KIDS

EDUCATED SO THEY CAN KEEP TAKING CLASSES AND KEEP THEIR MINDS GOING AND ALSO GET ACCESS TO THE

EDUCATION WHICH THEY WANT.

>> Stephen: WHY SHOULD THEY GET THIS EDUCATION?

IT'S OUR EDUCATION?

IT'S AMERICAN EDUCATION.

>> YES, WELL --

>> Stephen: THEY ARE TAKING AMERICAN THOUGHTS AND IDEAS.

THAT'S AMERICAN KNOWLEDGE.

>> EXCEPT, YOU KNOW --

>> Stephen: NO, I DON'T.

[ LAUGHTER ]

>> HERE IS WHAT IT IS.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

>> THIS IS THE SITUATION, EVERY SINGLE IMMIGRANT WE HAVE, UNDOCUMENTED OR DOCUMENTED IS A

FUTURE AMERICAN.

THAT'S JUST THE TRUTH OF IT.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

>> Stephen: NO, NO, IT'S NOT.

YOU KNOW WHAT?

>> YES, IT IS.

>> Stephen: YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT PATH TO CITIZENSHIP DO YOU BELIEVE IN THAT?

>> DOESN'T THE WHOLE REPUBLICAN PARTY BELIEVE IN IT NOW.

>> Stephen: NOT THE WHOLE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

>> LEAVE TO LOSE ONE MORE ELECTION.

>> Stephen: OR ONE WIN IF THEY TURN OUT THE BASE.

I BELIEVE IN THE GUEST WORKER PROGRAM BECAUSE IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

LIKE A GUEST IN YOUR HOME YOU CAN INVITE SOMEONE IN, WORK UNTIL THEY DON'T NEED YOU AND

SAY GET OUT.

THEY HAVE NO SAY AS TO WHAT HAPPENS IN THE HOUSE.

>> EVERY GENERATION OF AMERICANS HAS TO ANSWER, WILL BE CALLED A SUPERMAN QUESTION.

SUPERMAN COMES, LANDS IN AMERICA, HE IS ILLEGAL.

HE IS ONE EVER THESE KIDS.

HE IS WRAPPED UP IN A RED BULL FIGHTER'S CAPE AND YOU HAVE TO DECIDE WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO

WITH SUPERMAN R. WE GOING TO GIVE HIM THE BOOT AND SAY, YOU KNOW WHAT?

YOU ARE ILLEGAL NOT AN AMERICAN OR HAVE COMPASSION SAYING THIS KID WAS BROUGHT HERE -- BEFORE

WE KNEW HE DIDN'T HAVE A SAY WHETHER HE WAS GOING TO COME.

HE IS LIVING IN THIS COUNTRY AND EVEN AMERICAN.

>> Stephen: ON KRYPTON, DO THEY SPEAK SPAN JISH?

>> THAT IS THE QUESTION.

>> Stephen: THIS IS FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS OR ILLEGALS?

>> SOME PEOPLE WOULD SAY ILLEGAL.

I SAY UNDOCUMENTED.

>> Stephen: I SAY ILLEGAL.

UNDOCUMENT COD BE LIKE A CANADIAN GUY WHO LOST HIS PASSPORT.

>> RIGHT.

YOU CAN LOOK UP THE RULES AND THE RULES THAT AN IMMIGRANT IS SOMEONE BROUGHT TO THIS COUNTRY LEGALLY.

SO SAYING AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT IS LIKE AN OXYMORON.

IT'S A WEIRD ATTACK WORD.

WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO IT WE HAVE TO DECIDE AS A COUNTRY WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO WITH THE

REALITY ON THE DWROWND.

WE HAVE A BUNCH OF YOUNG PEOPLE AND A WHOLE BUNCH OF FAMILIES.

ARE WE GOING TO DISRUPT THESE FAMILIES AND TEAR THEM APART OR THINK, LIKE LISTEN, THESE PEOPLE

ARE HERE.

WE'VE GOT TO DEAL WITH THIS REALITY.

WE HAVE TO EXTEND THE FRANCHISE.

AND WE'VE GOT TO START THINKING OF A COUNTRY IN A WAY OF HOW DO WE PULL FOLKS TOGETHER NOT HOW

DO WE ATTACK THEM AND AFFLICT THEM?

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

>> Stephen: HERE IS WHY -- HERE IS WHY I THINK LETTING THEM INTO OUR UNIVERSITIES IS UNFAIR.

IS THAT THEY'VE GOT AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE OF UNDERSTANDING AMERICA BECAUSE WHO IS GOING TO

UNDERSTAND GREAT AMERICAN LITERATURE LIKE THE GRAPES OF WRATH BETTER THAN A MIGRANT WORKER?

>> RIGHT.

>> Stephen: WHO UNDERSTANDS WALT WHITMAN'S LEAFS OF GRASS BETTER THAN THE GUY CUTTING MY GRASS?

WHO UNDERSTANDS THE PILGRIMS BETTER THAN PEOPLE WHO CAME FOR FREEDOM?

IT'S AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE.

THEY HAVE TO BE GRADED ON A CURVE.

>> OR THINK OF IT AS A HUGE RESOURCE THAT ALL OF OUR STUDENTS CAN TAP INTO.

I THINK HAVING PEOPLE IN CLASS WHO HAVE DIFFERENT IDEAS, WHO COME FROM DIFFERENT

PERSPECTIVES, DIFFERENT WORLDS HELPS ALL OUR STUDENTS, I JUST DO.

>> Stephen: WHERE DOES FREEDOM UNIVERSITY MEET?

>> RIGHT NOW IT'S IN THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA DOWN IN ATHENS.

YOU SHOULD COME DOWN.

YOU SHOULD COME DOWN.

>> Stephen: I WOULD LOVE TO, COLLEGE KIDS LOVE ME.

DO YOU HAVE SWEATSHIRTS?

>> WE DON'T.

>> Stephen: LET ME HELP YOU OUT WITH THAT?

THERE YOU GO.

>> THERE THIS IS GREAT.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

>> Stephen: I WANT YOU TO TAKE THIS MESSAGE BACK WITH YOU.

>> THANK YOU SO MUCH.

>> Stephen: THANK YOU SO MUCH.

JUNOT DIAZ FREEDOM

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